Blow for Brazil’s ruling regime as top officials walk out

Workers Party supporters of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva demonstrate Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Getty

Workers Party supporters of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva demonstrate Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Getty

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Two more senior Brazilian officials have resigned in the latest blow to the government of President Dilma Rousseff, who is facing impeachment proceedings over accusations she violated fiscal laws.

They are sports minister George Hilton and Colonel Adilson Moreira, who was organising security at the Olympic Games.

Col Moreira reportedly wrote that he was ashamed the country was being led by “an unscrupulous group”.

The resignations come as Ms Rousseff battles for her government’s survival.

Ms Rousseff is accused of breaking fiscal laws by shifting around government funds ahead of her 2014 re-election campaign. Opposition parties say sleight-of-hand accounting allowed her to boost public spending to shore up votes.

Ms Rousseff denies any wrongdoing saying she did nothing that was not common practice in all prior administrations.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Supreme Court has handed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a victory, ruling against returning a corruption investigation involving the ex-leader to a judge he accuses of unfairly targeting him.

The country’s highest court voted 8-2 to take over the case, effectively removing the probe into Mr da Silva from Judge Sergio Moro, the lower court magistrate spearheading a corruption case centred on state-run oil company Petrobras.

Mr Moro, a judge from the provincial backwater of Curitiba, has risen to prominence over the past two years while presiding over the Petrobras investigation that has ensnared some of Brazil’s richest businessmen and top public figures from across the political spectrum. But he was accused of partisanship earlier this month after ordering police to take Mr da Silva in for questioning in connection with the case.

Mr da Silva’s supporters say Mr Moro is waging a crusade against the former leader and fear he could order him detained, a step the Supreme Court is thought much less likely to take, at least in the short term.

The full court has not yet taken up appeals on a separate injunction that prevented Mr da Silva from taking office as President Rousseff’s chief of state.

This week, thousands of demonstrators – many dressed in red, the symbol of Ms Rousseff’s left-leaning Workers’ Party – converged in the capital, Brasilia, as well as the financial centre of Sao Paulo and other cities throughout the country, to support her and Mr da Silva.

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